Monday, June 29, 2009

New York

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 26th June, 2009
Time : 153 minutes
Director : Kabir Khan; Writer : Sandeep Srivastava; Music : Pritam
Starring : John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Irrfan

In most countries, civilized ones that is, if the cops come and arrest you on mere suspicion (no evidence), detain you for 6-9 months, torture you, beat you, deprive you of your basic civil rights (food / clothing / right to a lawyer) and racially insult you / your religion, its regarded as a major human rights violation. In the USA, this is routine procedure as per the Patriots Act.

This point and how such procedures / violence in turn breed terrorism is the central point of Kabir Khan’s second film, New York, which traces the lives of three friends who are immigrants in USA and how the events of 9/11 impacted them and so many others like them.

They are college students, John, Katrina and Neil, there is an unspoken love triangle amongst them, lots of fun and games, laughter, partying. 9/11 happens towards the end of their college, shaking things up. Unrelatedly, they drift apart, Neil returning to india and then coming back to USA, running a taxi service. And then the FBI comes in, makes the three get back together and things change forever….

My Dad used the word taut while describing the film and its edited quite well, for sure, keeping it nice and tight, the story moving at all times. The camera angles are interesting and the first half is speckled with some good jokes, the most memorable being Neil’s “I’ve just come.” Followed by John’s “Really ? Bas gale milne se hi ?”. The three central characters act well. Neil was better than what I expected. Katrina, after a long while, got a role that required her to be more than just eye candy. John was as good as we would expect – fun in the party section and serious when he was needed to be.

It is a bit heavy though, and there are parts during the film where you wish you could watch in FF mode. The journey to the slightly predictable, mostly implausible end is not all fun and games and while not bad, is not brilliant either. In fact implausibility is writ large over a lot of the film, both major and minor, as the FBI would not have so many meetings with an informant in the open, a lot of the in-car shots showed the front car passenger without a seat belt etc

Kabir makes nice, thoughtful films. His first feature, Kabul Express, took a wry look at Afghanistan. This one focuses on USA’s response to 9/11 and I could kind of sense Kabir’s dilemma throughtout the film – I feel he thinks the USA did wrong, they’ve created more terrorists through their own actions etc. He tried to provide an ‘other side’ through Irrfan, the Muslim FBI agent, but he comes across as too trite, too flat. In the end, unfortunately, despite a few sparks and some good performances, even the film rises above mediocrity, but only just…